Album Reviews

The Leaves Were Falling – The Avalanches – Album Review

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The Leaves Were Falling – The Avalanches – Album Review

When an album by the Avalanches is released, you sit up and take notice! It is their first release in 16 years, and their previous album Since I left You feels like it is from another age. Bill Clinton was just about to leave the White house and Gladiator was the big film release of the year!

There was talk that they would never release another album, such was the effort to put together their first, but they have somehow managed the impossible. They have been working on the album since 2005. Artists such as Jennifer Herrema and Danny Brown announced they had collaborated with them in recent years, but still the world waited without any real expectation.

So how long is too long? The Melbourne-based group have been often imitated during the intervening years. The world catches up to your sound and what was original now sounds dated, as the imitators move beyond the innovators. It’s difficult to pin down just what exactly they’ve done with this new release, such is the spectrum of sound they’ve delivered, but one thing is clear is that they haven’t been twiddling their thumbs in the intervening years!

Because I’m Me is the second track after a brief introduction. It is a blast of distant 70s brass before it places the brass centre stage. The rap from Camp Lo seems predictable and possibly unnecessary, as the track would work well without.  Next up is Frankie Sinatra, which seems so much better suited as an album track than it did as a single. The Calypso rhythm adds a touch of madness to the mix and allows them to be at their playful best, with all the bells and whistles and a blast of ‘my favourite things’ to finish. The next up is Subways, which is something of a mish mash and never really holds together. It’s tracks such as this that could have easily been left on the cutting room floor, and with 21 tracks, it would not have been missed.

If I Was A Folkstar is one of the best tracks on the album, with a day time DJ talking over a simple bass line and keyboard sound. It’s more of a grown up sound than you would associate with their first album, showing signs of evolution and is quite a gem. Colours features vocals from Jonathan Donahue (Mercury Rev) and again is another of the highlights, as this euphoric track embraces all.

Later in the album, Harmony is another song with a 70s air as the layered choir give an exuberant chorus. The Wozard Of Iz has more of a hard edge to it, again driven by bass and drums with a simple repetitive sound before the dreamy vocals are introduced. The track takes several quick changes in direction, which is something you could say about most of the tracks here. Sunshine is another of their jubilant moments, which they do so well.

Stepkids starts quiet and draws the listener in, as you slowly become aware of the intricacies. It is nicely muted in comparison to many of the others and all the better for it. The final track on the album is Saturday Night Inside Out, which sounds ripped and dragged during the early segments before clearing to a bright, crisp day. They resist the temptation to go out on an explosion, with the album fading away.

Overall the layers of invention are what really impress, there is a real attention to detail, like every element has been deeply considered. There is a playful air to proceedings, with songs folding in upon themselves and reappearing in different forms. They almost can’t stop themselves from toying with the tracks, which can be to their detriment at times. They are hugely talented at what they do, and while not every track on the album works, the ones that do can leave you quite dazzled.

There’s a guide to the samples used on the album by the band themselves on Triple J.

Track List:

1. The Leaves Were Falling 00:15
2. Because I’m Me 04:13
3. Frankie Sinatra 03:44
4. Subways 03:11
5. Going Home 02:07
6. If I Was A Folkstar 04:33
7. Colours 03:32
8. Zap! 01:59
9. The Noisy Eater 03:15
10. Wildflower 01:15
11. Harmony 03:49
12. Live A Lifetime Love 02:31
13. Park Music 00:54
14. Livin Underwater (Is Somethin Wild) 01:57
15. The Wozard Of Iz 03:00
16. Over The Turnstiles 00:42
17. Sunshine 03:37
18. Light Up 01:35
19. Kaleidoscopic Lovers 03:55
20. Stepkids 04:33
21. Saturday Night Inside Out 04:59

 

 

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